Service visits and community engagement are fundamental aspects of every Semester at Sea voyage, providing students with the opportunity to not only visit a village, community or nonprofit organization, but also to contribute to the community‚Äôs wellbeing and further development. Though the gestures may be small at times, they are meaningful on both sides, whether it is helping to build a school, spending time holding babies in an orphanage or playing soccer with students after school.
In nearly every port throughout the Fall 2013 voyage, students have been donating toothbrushes‚Äîdozens of toothbrushes‚Äîto schools, villages, shelters, orphanages, South African townships, and Brazilian favelas, as part of the Global Grins project.
A total of 50,000 toothbrushes were donated to the Fall 2013 voyage by Global Grins, a nonprofit organization based in southern California founded in 2011 by SAS alums Joselyn (S‚Äô83, S‚Äô84) and Todd (S‚Äô84) Miller that works to raise awareness about improving oral health and preventing the spread of bacterias and, thus, illnesses.
The goal of the effort is to connect two of the core values of Semester at Sea: global service and health and safety, while promoting proper oral hygiene in an effort to stem bacterial diseases. ¬†According to a 2011 report, out of the 6 billion people in the world, 4.8 billion own a mobile phone while only 4.2 own a toothbrush.
Students on the voyage, along with assistance from one of the resident directors, Alison Casey, in charge of service learning, established a ‚ÄúGlobal Grins Delivery Squad‚Äù to organize locations to deliver the toothbrushes.
They delivered boxes to Peace Village International, in Oberhausen, Germany. In Ghana, they brought toothbrushes to children at the City of Hope Refuge, Torgorme Village, and to a village where SAS participants helped built part of a Pencils of Promise school. In Cape Town, students distributed toothbrushes to children at the Baphumelele Orphanage in the Khayelitsha township and to residents in the Langa township. In Rio de Janeiro, students delivered toothbrushes to two of the city‚Äôs favelas, which are the poor, sprawling areas of Rio. And in Salvador, dependent children were among the SASers who provided toothbrushes to students at an elementary school in the fishing village of Praia do Forte.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been so fun to see the students on the ship so involved in this project and working together to make sure that the toothbrushes are donated to people who need them,‚Äù said Casey. ‚ÄúI think everyone really got a lot out of this.‚Äù